Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fried Eggs with Sauteed Ramps and Duck Bacon

Somehow (and this is truly shocking living in NYC) I have never had ramps before.  Every spring ramps pop up on restaurant menus all over the city and appear at the farmers' markets, where people buy them en masse.  Some of my favorite restaurants (including Momofuku) put ramps on the menu for the brief month that they are in season.  And yet, I never managed to eat any.  The other day when we were at the farmers' market I happened to come across a large pile of ramps at the table for Mountain Sweet Berry Farm and I snagged a few bunches to experiment with.  Incidentally, Mountain Sweet Berry Farm also makes these amazing homemade potato chips that they sell at the market in little paper bags.  You should definitely try them if you find yourself near Union Square on Wednesday or Saturday.  Moving on, never having cooked (or eaten) ramps before, I was at a loss for how to prepare them.  I know I have seem them on menus pickled, in pastas and on fancy-schmancy pizzas, but I wanted to know how best to prepare them at home.  The guy manning the Mountain Sweet Berry Farm table recommended sauteeing them or serving them in salads.  But I didn't know what to serve the sauteed ramps with.  I decided to turn to Google and stumbled across a bunch of recipes that referenced serving the ramps with eggs.  I had picked up a dozen eggs from the farmers' market too that day.  Perfect!  So we used a recipe from Serious Eats for guidance and made ourselves some eggs with sauteed ramps and duck bacon.

I had no idea that ramps would taste so garlick-y and onion-y all at the same time.  They reminded me slightly of garlic chives, only more intense.  Alex called this dish "ramps with cholesterol and more cholesterol."  I have to admit that he has a point - it wasn't exactly healthy.  But I thought it was pretty tasty.  And I thought that the flavor of the ramps paired really well with the runny egg yolk.  It did a pretty good job of cutting through the richness.  Mostly I'm just glad that I finally had the chance to cook and eat ramps!

Recipe after the jump!

Fried Eggs with Sauteed Ramps and Duck Bacon

4 slices duck bacon, cut into 1/4-inch wide batons/lardons (you can substitute pork bacon)
1 1/2 tbsp butter
16 ramps, well-washed (like leeks there is a lot of grit in between the leaves) and ends trimmed
4 large eggs
crushed red pepper flakes

Cook bacon in a large cast-iron skillet (or other heavy-bottomed pan) until well-rendered and crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, but leave rendered fat in skillet

Add butter to bacon fat and heat over moderately-high heat until butter begins to brown. 

Add ramps and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, wilted and beginning to brown in plates, about 1-2 minutes (if your ramps are really thin or thick it will take a little shorter or a little longer - play it by ear). Season lightly with s&p. Discard paper towel under the bacon and transfer ramps to plate with bacon.

Crack eggs directly into skillet and fry over moderatly-high heat until whites are set on top and brown and crisp on the bottom, and yolk is still runny, about 2 minutes. Depending on the size of your pan you might have to do this in two batches. Transfer eggs to a plate, pour any remaining bacon fat and butter from the skillet over them (if any), season to taste with s&p, chili flakes. 

Serve with bacon and ramps.

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